Alexandria National Cemetery is located in the community of Pineville, Rapides Parish, La. In 1804, under the new U.S. Territorial government, Rapides became one of the 12 parishes into which the Territory of New Orleans (later the State of Louisiana) was divided and, by 1805, a crude settlement had developed at the site below the rapids named Alexandria. When Abraham Lincoln was elected president in fall 1860, the people of Alexandria and Pineville saw the handwriting on the wall. On Jan. 26, 1861, the citizens of Louisiana voted for secession and swiftly committed to joining the Confederacy.
Ships appeared at the mouth of the Mississippi River determined to go upriver and capture New Orleans in May 1862. Within a year, Rapides Parish citizens were shocked when they realized their homes, the roads leading through Alexandria parish and other crossroads villages of the parish might become part of the battlefield.
Between 1863 and early 1864, the area was invaded twice. Plantations were laid waste, houses burned, fences torn down, trees cut for firewood and sugarhouses and barns burned. Both armies lived off the land, taking away food, livestock and poultry. The final destruction of Alexandria occurred on May 13, 1864, when Alexandria was burned to the ground by Union troops.
After the war, federal troops moved into the region to begin the process of reconstruction. In 1867, an eight-acre plot was appropriated from local resident François Poussin for the establishment of a national cemetery for deceased Union soldiers who died in the region. Approximately a decade later, a suit was filed by Poussin’s heirs and the United States was ordered to pay his descendents $1,200 for title to the property. Bodies were removed from the surrounding towns such as Mount Pleasant, Cheneyville and Yellow Bayou and reinterred in Alexandria. Later, remains from Fort Brown, Texas, were reinterred at the national cemetery when the fort was no longer deemed necessary. Alexandria (LA) National Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Monuments and Memorials
The 1911 granite Memorial to Unknowns marks the burial of 1,537 unknown Federal soldiers who were removed from the Brownsville National Cemetery and re-interred at Alexandria National Cemetery.
Another 1911 granite Memorial to Unknowns marks the burial of 16 unknown federal soldiers who were removed from the Fort Ringgold Post Cemetery (Texas) and re-interred at Alexandria National Cemetery.
The remains of 25 unknown soldiers from post and private cemeteries near Fort Jessup, La., are also interred in one grave and it's marked with a white government marker.